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Capital Shooter Claims he has the Dirt on Clinton

Saturday July 25

Suspect claimed to have 'dirt' on Clinton By Chris McGonigle

RIMINI, Montana (Reuters) - The suspect in the deadly shooting at the U.S. Capitol had been committed to a state mental hospital in Montana and claimed to have "dirt" on President Clinton, officials and neighbors said Saturday.

Russell Weston, 41, was in critical condition in the Washington, D.C., hospital where he was taken with numerous bullet wounds after Friday's gunfight at the Capitol, which killed two policemen and injured one tourist.

Prosecutors said they would charge him with murder of a federal police officer, a capital crime.

As investigators sought to understand how a lone gunman could penetrate the heart of the U.S. government, his neighbors in Montana painted a picture of a troubled, angry and potentially dangerous man.

"He just seemed odd, I stayed away," said Ken Moore, 72, who was Weston's neighbor in this old mining town, now little more than a collection of cabins and saloons about 30 miles south of Helena.

"He thought my satellite dish was used by police to spy on him."

Weston drifted between his family home in Valmeyer, Illinois, and a barn-like cabin in Rimini, which lay just a few miles from the cabin used by convicted Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski.

And like Kaczynski, Weston was a long-time loner who had a clear history of mental problems.

Andrew Malcolm, communications director for Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, confirmed Saturday that Weston had been involuntarily committed to the Montana psychiatric hospital at Warm Springs from Oct. 11 to Dec. 2, 1996.

"This was a civil, involuntary commitment," Malcolm told Reuters. "Something happened that caused the police to become involved with this guy, and they suspected mental problems. A judge agreed, and sent him to Warm Springs for evaluation." Malcolm was unable to provide any details about Weston's time at the psychiatric hospital. But Jerry Swihart, who worked at Warm Springs while Weston was there, told the Helena Independent Record Saturday that Weston had bragged about having "dirt" on President Clinton.

"He would rant and rave about how he was a personal friend of Clinton and his family and then Clinton turned on him," Swihart was quoted as saying. "He'd say things like 'I've got dirt on him, but if I tell you Clinton will get me."'

Swihart said he worked with Weston at the hospital warehouse where Weston was on work assignment.

"His concentration would keep getting back to that focal point about Clinton and the government. He was real anti-government. I don't remember him ever talking about much other than that," Swihart said.

Federal law enforcement officials said after Friday's shooting that Weston was known as a "low-level threat" to the president. Saturday, federal agents searched both his house in Illinois and his Montana cabin.

Malcolm said that after Weston's release from Warm Springs in December 1996, hospital staff made appointments for him for further psychiatric treatment at a mental health center in Waterloo, Illinois.

"We have no record of him after that (1996)," Malcolm said. "So either he was not in Montana, or he was keeping out of trouble."

In Illinois, friends and neighbors said Weston had been an overweight adolescent who remained forever on the fringe in Valmeyer, a middle-class town on the banks of the Mississippi river about 25 miles south of St. Louis.

"In school he was basically a loner. The last 20 years or so he's kinda stayed to himself," Hank Marquadt, a former classmate, told ABC-TV in Chicago.

Weston's father, Russell Weston Sr., told the Miami Herald that his son was an "introvert" who lived on public assistance and had not worked since the mid-1980s.

The elder Weston told the Herald that he argued with his son earlier this week because he used his shotgun to kill more than a dozen cats -- apparently at the request of his grandmother.

"He shot a bunch of cats and I made him get out. I got mad, told him, 'You gonna have to leave,"' he told the Herald.

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